When I took on the role as Elevate Project Officer for Energize, I was excited and intrigued about stepping into a completely new world. I knew some of the team already as I had trained as a specialist instructor in Postural Stability through Energize, an opportunity that came about after chatting with my now colleague Nick.

Nick told me of an opportunity that sounded too good to be true! Energize were advertising to train a group of level 3 qualified fitness instructors to become specialist level 4 instructors in Postural Stability Instruction. The aim was to reduce falls, by improving strength and balance in the over 60s across Shropshire. Upon looking into it things got better, not only was this charity Energize going to pay for our qualification, but they were also going to help us set up sessions over the county to improve independence for those in later life and develop our self-employed businesses further at the same time.

I read through the contract a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t a scam, as opportunities like this don’t come along every day!

I had only recently heard of County Sports Partnerships, as it was back then, (we are now referred to as Active Partnerships or APs), I knew a little about the work that they do, but not the full extent. One of 43 APs in England, our aim is to improve lives through physical activity. We are also a charity and rely on funding to keep the good work that we do going.

Energize went through a process to obtain funding for the Elevate programme, with the outcome to help reduce falls, hospital admissions and improve the quality of people’s lives physically, mentally and socially.

The Elevate project is funded by Public Health Shropshire, Energize were commissioned to run the programme and report on impact and findings. It is without question that the impact on the participants physically has been phenomenal. Other noticeable improvements have been mentally and socially. People have noted confidence improvement, socially we are seeing friendships being made and gatherings outside of the sessions going ahead, people are achieving what they came to us for and much, much more.

After we went on to Radio Shropshire, we were inundated with calls, the calls were coming in from people who could really resonate with the classes, people who had experienced a fall or felt unsteady and had lost their confidence, they wanted to talk to us about it and we wanted to listen.

People who we were talking to felt as if their fears had been addressed and there was some hope for them to get their independence and confidence back. A press release also went out over the county and I do not think anyone could have guessed the level of response that we got!

I must add, I knew I was surrounded by a genuinely lovely team of people in the Energize office, but when the phone lines went crazy, followed by emails and letters that came in, that’s when I knew I was part of the most incredible team, everyone helped to play a part in Elevate.

Just to give you an idea of the demand that is out there for people wanting to improve their strength and balance, we have had over 700 referrals in less than 18 months!

Some of the calls were genuinely heart-breaking, I heard from one person who had gone through various losses, they had also had a range of medical issues including a recent diagnosis of dementia. Teary, sad and desperately wanting to join the sessions, concerned that medically they would not be able to, I worked with them and the GP to get them on the classes. They were over the moon, we have seen improved balance and physically they have become stronger, this person has also made new friends and has continued with the maintenance classes that the instructor now delivers.

Physical activity can help with so many conditions and not just the reduction of falls in our later years, it can help to reduce the risk of diabetes type II, high blood pressure, some cancers, dementia, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety. Being active helps us to maintain independence. Exercising in a group can also help to eliminate loneliness, promote a feeling of wellbeing, increase confidence levels and reduce social isolation.

The journey of Elevate has not been easy at times, we have embraced every challenge along the way and turned it all into a positive learning experience, overall it has been enjoyable and incredibly rewarding, everyone at Energize is so pleased that Elevate has now been extended until March 2021.

Energize is an organisation that genuinely cares about improving lives throughout the county. We are a small dedicated team who give our all into making a difference to people’s lives. If you want to know more about the fantastic work that Energize is involved in, please read more across our website.

And for all the details on Elevate classes click here